Postal Workers Are Stressed And On The Front Lines Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

As millions of Americans are told to stay home to protect themselves and stem the spread of coronavirus, postal workers nationwide are still going to work, risking their health but remaining committed to delivering the letters, prescriptions and other mail people need. 

“It’s stressful. I think about it every day,” Michael, a letter carrier, told HuffPost. (His name has been changed to avoid repercussions at work.) “You have to do the exact opposite of what authorities are asking people to do, which is stay home.”

The 42-year-old, who delivers mail in a small city in Massachusetts, is part of a workforce deemed “essential” during the coronavirus crisis, meaning that — like grocery store workers, firefighters, garbage collectors and more — he still has to show up to work every day, even as large swaths of the country have closed stores and schools, companies have mandated employees work from home, and some states have ordered people to shelter in place.

Michael’s job is the opposite of sheltering in place: He’s going from house to house to deliver mail, touching doorknobs and sharing vehicles with other coworkers. “I’m touching a steering wheel probably everyone in the office has touched this week,” he said.  

While Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines tell people to wash their hands frequently, Michael’s job has him on the go, so he can’t comply. He hasn’t found any hand sanitizer for sale in his town, and his supervisor said the jug they all share at work was the last they had on hand.

“I just wear rubber gloves and try not to touch my face — I don’t know what else to do,” Michael said. “I actually think I’m going to get the virus, it’s just a matter of time.”  

In the U.S., the numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are increasing every day. There were around 70,000 cases reported across every state as of Thursday, and over 1,000...

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